Halil Paşa, the son of Ferit Selim Paşa, the director of the Imperial Artillery Arsenal, was born in Beylerbeyi, Istanbul. In 1869, he enrolled in the Imperial School of Military Engineering and graduated as a lieutenant in 1873. After he graduated, he was appointed aide-de-camp to Sultan Abdülaziz (r. 1861-1876). While working in the palace, he watched the court painters closely, developing a keen interest in painting. Sultan Abdülaziz transferred him to the painting unit before his deposition from the throne in 1876. He then became an assistant to Pierre Guès, a painting instructor at the Kuleli Military Senior High School. In 1880, with the assistance of the Minister for Education Münif Paşa, he was sent to study in Paris. He spent eight years at the École des Beaux-Arts, attending the studios of Jean-Léon Gérôme and Gustave Courtois. Returning from Paris in 1888, he worked as a painting instructor at the Imperial Military School of Medicine and the Kuleli Military Senior High School. After 1906, when he was made a ‘paşa,’ he taught painting at the Ottoman Military College. He took on the position of assistant director of the Imperial Museum (the Istanbul Archaeological Museums). His paintings were exhibited in the Paris Universal Expositions of 1889 and 1900, where his portrait titled Madame X was awarded the bronze medal in 1889. Between 1911 and 1913, he was the oil painting instructor at the Academy of Fine Arts, where in 1917, he was appointed director. His works were shown in the 1901, 1902, and 1903 Istanbul Salon Exhibitions and in the Galatasaray Exhibitions from 1916 onwards. Following the declaration of the Second Constitutional Monarchy, he travelled to Egypt as the guest of the Khedive Abbas Halim Paşa. Halil Paşa spent his last years painting in his waterfront villa in Beylerbeyi, Istanbul.
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